I have a piece for the Prospect about the narrow range of issues that have been discussed at the presidential debates:
And perhaps the biggest dog that hasn’t barked is LBGT rights. In in a sense, this is a sign of social progress—even five years ago, the idea that a president could come out in favor of same-sex marriage and have it be almost entirely ignored during the subsequent election campaign would have seemed ludicrously implausible. Nonetheless, this progress certainly does not reflect a bipartisan consensus, and voters should be allowed to examine the positions of the candidates. How can Romney and Ryan justify their opposition to the repeal of DADT? Should the Defense of Marriage Act be considered constitutional? Are bans on same-sex marriage consistent with the Constitution’s mandate that states provide equal protection of the laws? These are important questions that haven’t received a second of consideration during one of the few times in which large numbers of Americans focus on political questions.
Of course, the remarkable transformation in public opinion on LBGT rights is also an excellent example of the fact that social change generally doesn’t come from the top-down, so it’s not clear how much this matters. But it’s interesting that Obama’s endorsement has barely come up during the campaign. It also makes me more skeptical than ever that pro-SSM litigation created a counterproductive backlash, but with Michael Klarman’s new book having arrived I’ll get to that later in the week.